Community Watershed Stewardship Programs and Projects
Abstract:“Community watershed stewardship” is people choosing to exercise their collective responsibility for the health and care of their local aquatic environments. Community members who support watershed stewardship activities help maintain and improve the health and integrity of the community as a whole, as they volunteer to monitor, map and remediate the physical environment.
When a variety of opportunities for involvement in stewardship activities are offered to different sectors of the community, people can choose to work on projects that are related to personal, recreational, or professional interests. This type of stewardship smorgasbord addresses many different aspects of environmental damage to sensitive habitat or water quality, provides a comprehensive approach to these issues, and strengthens a stewardship ethic throughout different sectors of the community.
The Comox Valley region on Vancouver Island is rapidly urbanizing, and there is a critical need to protect fish and wildlife habitats and other sensitive ecosystems. Between 1991 and 1996, the City of Courtenay, the largest urban center in the area, grew 48% to a current population of 20,000 residents. From 1992 to 1996, the rural communities of Merville and Royston grew a staggering 74% each. As a result of this rapid growth, fish habitats, sensitive ecosystems, and other watershed values are becoming degraded or are threatened.
Opportunities have been created in the Comox Valley through Comox Valley Project Watershed Society programs for community groups, individual volunteers and landowners to work in partnership with government. The programs enable the community to compile and publish detailed information about sensitive habitats and water quality conditions, and to become involved in remedial activities where impacts have been identified. This type of community involvement is assisting in developing the stewardship ethic in individuals leading to citizendriven watershed planning approaches, voluntary conservation activities and municipal land use decisions that protect sensitive habitats and water.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2000-01-01
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